Jail Vote Expected Next Week

Despite pending legal action to stop it, Bay County Commissioners may award the contract for the new Bay County Jail by next week.

It appears the Corrections Corporation of America will get the bid to build and operate a new jail facility.

After months of review and debate, the Corrections Corporation of America will likely continue operating the Bay County Jail. This week county staff recommended the commission award a two year construction and six year operations contract with CCA.

County Commissioner Mike Thomas says ongoing negotiations helped seal the deal. "We capped the construction cost if there is any increase for inflation they'd have to suffer that we've capped medical cost where they spend first 10,000 on medical first 10,000 on repairs and we've dropped the per diem rate considerably."

CCA agreed to reduce the amount of money it charges the county to house an inmate, from $46.48 to $46.18 for the first two years. That will save the county an estimated $9 million.

CCA's also agreed to drop the construction cost by nearly $2 million.

County Commissioner Jerry Girvin says he'll vote in favor of the contract, but still has some concerns. "Am I totally happy with it, No, am I going to recommend some additional negotiating on the length of the contract for operation, yes."

As of Thursday night three commissioners we spoke with, Girvin, Mike Nelson and Mike Thomas say they plan to vote for the contract. George Gainer is opposed and Bill Dozier is undecided.

Gainer says the contract is still going to cost the county too much money, "I'm very much against proceeding on with this $39 million plan that will only give us less than 300 more beds."

We contacted Commissioner Dozier by phone, who said he is looking for the best service at the best value. Girvin agrees, urging the county to be patient.

"Trying to do a job of doing $2 worth of result for $1 worth of money, bear with us it's getting there."

The losing bidder, Emerald Corrections has asked for a court injunction blocking the county from awarding CCA the contract. Emerald claims CCA’s bid is not valid.

The court has not set a hearing date, so commissioners say they're going forward with a vote next week.